What movie fan wouldn’t love to get their own theatre for Christmas? OK, so maybe it’s only 15 inches tall–not quite big enough for a red carpet launch–but it comes complete with movie stars! limousines! and even paparazzi LEGO figurines!
From shop.lego.com: Build a grand premiere at the Palace Cinema!
It’s premiere night at the Palace Cinema! Illuminate the night sky with the spotlights as the child star arrives in a fancy black limousine! Gather the crowd on the star-studded sidewalk, then head into the detailed lobby with a concession stand and ticket area! Take the grand staircase into the theater with a large screen, movie projector and reclining chairs for 6 minifigures. Introducing the latest addition to the LEGO® Modular Buildings series, the highly detailed, 2-story Palace Cinema corner building. This collectible model features a sidewalk of the stars, brick-built entrance doors, posters, sign frontage, a tower with spires and rooftop decorations. Includes 6 minifigures: child actress, chauffeur, female guest, male guest, photographer and cinema worker.
Includes 6 minifigures: child star, chauffeur, female guest, male guest, photographer and cinema worker
Features brick-built entrance doors, posters, sign frontage, tower with spires and rooftop decoration, lobby, concession stand, ticket area, staircase, big screen, projector and reclining seats for 6 minifigures
Vehicles include classic-style limousine
Hard-to-find elements include a red baseplate and dark tan, dark red, and gold pieces
Seat a 6-minifigure audience in the reclining seats!
Play on the star-studded sidewalk, in the detailed lobby or in the big-screen theatre!
Palace Cinema measures 15″ (38cm) high, 10″ (25.5cm) wide, and 10″ (25.5cm) deep
Give the shirt off your back for Christmas… or at least a t-shirt from ubertorso.com. They have dozens of styles features logos inspired by movies like “Kill Bill Volume 1” (Hattori Hanzo Swords) and “Prometheus” (Weyland Corporation), and of course, “Django Unchained” (pictured).
From the knitting needles of yarn artist Carson Zickersham comes the strangest Christmas gift on the list so far, a needlepoint piece featuring Nicolas Cage as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” Titled “Nic Cage Wants to Be Where the People Are,” the 5″ x 7″ handmade artwork can be yours for only $65.35 Can. Thanks to the Huffington Post for pointing the way on this one.
I saw Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” on its opening day in Toronto. I sat through it once, transfixed and while everyone else stayed glued to their seats for the credits, discussing the movie and picking up their jaws from the floor, I rushed out and bought another ticket for the next screening and sat through it once more. Not sure how many times I’ve seen it since then, but I was reminded of that first screening when I looked at “Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece,” Jason Bailey’s book on the making of the film.
From amazon.ca: ”
When Pulp Fiction was released in theaters in 1994, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The New York Times called it a “triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey,” and thirty-one-year-old Quentin Tarantino, with just three feature films to his name, became a sensation: the next great American director.
“Nearly twenty years later, those who proclaimed Pulp Fiction an instant classic have been proven irrefutably right. In Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, film expert Jason Bailey explores why Pulp Fiction is such a brilliant and influential film. He discusses how the movie was revolutionary in its use of dialogue (“You can get a steak here, daddy-o,” “Correct-amundo”), time structure, and cinematography—and how it completely transformed the industry and artistry of independent cinema. He examines Tarantino’s influences, illuminates the film’s pop culture references, and describes its phenomenal legacy. Unforgettable characters like Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) are scrutinized from all-new angles, and memorable scenes—Christopher Walken’s gold watch monologue, Vince’s explanation of French cuisine—are analyzed and celebrated.
“Much like the contents of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase, Pulp Fiction is mysterious and spectacular. This book explains why. Illustrated throughout with original art inspired by the film, with sidebars and special features on everything from casting close calls to deleted scenes, this is the most comprehensive, in-depth book on Pulp Fiction ever published.”
In the first thirty minutes of Nothing Like the Holidays, a new seasonal film starring Alfred Molina and John Leguizamo, many story lines are introduced. There is a troubled Iraq vet back for Christmas for the first time in three years, unresolved feelings about a former girlfriend, accusations of infidelity and racial stereotyping. It may not sound like it, but it’s also a comedy. It’s Coming Home, Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone with a hint of Lucy and Ricky all rolled into one stale Yule Log.
Like many Christmas movies that came before it, Nothing Like the Holidays treats the Yule season as a cinematic excuse to showcase a family who loves one another but doesn’t get along. In this case it is the Rodriguez family gathering in Chicago at their parent’s home to celebrate the season and brother Jesse’s (Freddy Rodriguez) safe return from Iraq. Over the course of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day it is uncovered that sister Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), an actress, isn’t exactly setting the Hollywood studios on fire; that brother Mauricio (John Leguizamo) and his uptight wife Sarah (Debra Messing) aren’t as happy as believed and the parents, Anna (Elizabeth Peña) and Eduardo (Afred Molina), are getting a divorce after thirty-six years. Will the healing power of the season bring them together, or will this be their last Christmas together?
Nothing Like the Holidays is an average TV Christmas movie re-gifted for the big screen. The basic themes and plot devices are nothing we haven’t seen done before and better in The Family Stone, This Christmas or Home for the Holidays. The big twist is cultural—this time the family in question is Puerto Rican! The loud and boisterous family gives the film some energy, but the situations are so predictable that the film struggles to maintain the audience’s interest.
Former Oz star Luis Guzmán is the film’s comic relief. When he wonders why his brother and his waspy wife haven’t produced a “Sorta Rican” it provides the film’s best line, but too often the comedy gets in the way of the drama and visa versa. Tender moments collide with slapstick and it makes for uneven viewing.
Adding some weight to the cast is Alfred Molina, who, despite an ever shifting accent brings warmth to the role of the family patriarch and Elizabeth Peña who makes the most of her limited role as the mother. Of the rest of the cast John Leguizamo sleepwalks through his part as the hotheaded attorney son while, as his wife, Debra Messing does her best to bring some of her sitcom chops to a very thinly written character.
Despite its good intentions Nothing Like the Holidays is something like a lot of other movies we’ve seen before, and might be best seen next year when it can be rented from the bargain bin.
My personal e-mail address begins with “mrchaos” for a reason. As a freelance film critic—root work “free,” I like the freedom of it—I have always tried to avoid structure, particularly in my work life. I generally play by the ATM rule—Always Take the Money!—so unless I have to do something illegal or show myself naked I’ll usually say yes to a gig if there is a pay cheque involved. That often leads to log jammed weeks like the one I have coming up. It’s better to be busy than not (that’s the freelancer’s motto… or at least it should be) but sometimes I sacrifice sleep for work and live to regret it. I’ve just come through a rough weekend of sitting through eight hours of deliberations for a film award on Saturday and then doing a quick in-and-out-in-an-Sunday-afternoon trip to New York to interview the cast of The Wrestler. Today is spent strapped to my computer writing this and trying to think of clever things to say about the movies I have to review this week; reviews that will eventually end up in print on my website, and live on Canada AM and my radio show on CFRB. Tonight I’m hosting a screening of a new movie called Toronto Stories at the Hazelton Hotel screening room. It’s a beautiful space, the kind of elegant mini-theatre I imagine Hugh Hefner has in at the mansion. The only difference, I guess, is that Hefner has Playboy Bunnies draped over his over-stuffed leather seats and we don’t. Tonight two of the film’s directors—there’s four in all—David Weaver and Aaron Woodley will be in attendance to do a Q&A and sip some champagne after the screening. It’ll be a fun night… more on that tomorrow.
I seem to be spending a lot of time in hotels these days. Over the weekend I was at Gladstone in Toronto for a meeting and the W Hotel in NYC to interview freshly minted Golden Globe nominee Mickey Rourke. Since I’ve been back everyone wants to know what he’s like. I only spent a few minutes with the guy, but I my first impression was that he’s unpredictable. Refreshingly so. In the interview he talked about living in a “state of shame”—try getting Brad Pitt to go there… you can’t—and later had me reach down the back of his shirt to check the label. The next night I had dinner at One at the Hazelton Hotel and saw Tom Cruise in the restaurant, Bryan Adams at the bar and heard that Duran Duran was about to check in. Strange days indeed.
There’s nothing but deadlines this week because everyone is trying to cut out early for Christmas. I’ve been screening movies steadily for weeks so I’m caught up with everything I have to see through to New Years. Trouble is, I also have to write about them and shoot advance episodes of my TV show Richard Crouse’s Movie Show. That translates to a lot of keyboard bashing. I make it doubly hard on myself because I have a rule when it comes to reviews; I either write them 24 hours after seeing the film or wait 24 years. One is a gut reaction, the other a considered response with the benefit of hindsight and reflection. In my new book Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen I mostly used the latter approach but these days I’m in the mind numbing position of writing two or three reviews a day. Carpal tunnel here I come!
Thursdays and Fridays are the days I throw off the shackles of my computer and actually reenter society. Spending most of my time in the dark watching movies or at the computer writing reviews doesn’t really do much to hone one’s people skills, so I look forward to Thursday and Fridays when I actually get away from the glow of the computer screen and get to talk to real, live humans. Started the day with a cell phone interview on the Bill Carroll Show on CFRB as I drove to the CTV studios to do a hit on Canada AM discussing the Golden Globe nominations. It’s a fun spot although I’m so gob smacked that James Franco got nominated for Pineapple Express and not Milk I am uncharacteristically speechless by the end of the segment. The rest of the day is spent getting reacquainted with society…
On Friday’s I have to get up at a time I like to call “arse o’clock” to do Canada AM. I’ve been their movie critic for years, but no matter how many times I do the show I feel like barfing every time the alarm goes off at that hour. After dragging a comb across my head and fighting traffic I “entertain the nation” as I like to call it, and head back downtown to shoot an episode of Richard Crouse’s Movie Show for the Independent Film Channel and tape my radio show at CFRB NewsTalk 1010. At night I shoot a review segment for NewsNet and head over to The Royal Theatre to host a screening of Toronto Stories. David Cronenberg and Bruce MacDonald are in the audience. At one point during the Q&A I see Cronenberg cradling his head in his hands. Am I boring David Cronenberg? I hope not… later he says hello and doesn’t seem agitated so I think I’m OK.
Not everyone appreciates the Christmas season’s candy-cane smiles and chocolate ho-ho-hos. Which is why a rare screening of Christmas Evil – originally titled the more appropriately sinister You Better Watch Out – should appeal to those who prefer naughty over nice during the holidays.
The obscure 1980 slasher film – which by today’s standards plays more like a low-budget psychological drama – has become something of a cult classic in recent years. A 2006 special edition DVD includes audio commentary by none other than singular “bad taste” filmmaker John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) who deems Christmas Evil “the best seasonal film of all time,” adding, “I wish I had kids. I’d make them watch it every year and if they didn’t like it they’d be punished!”
Only one 35 mm print of the film is known to exist and it travels with director Lewis Jackson, who brings his road show to a screening in Toronto next Tuesday (9:30 p.m., Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., $13 for non-members, $10 for members). Lewis will also present a reel of deleted 35 mm scenes from the film and participate in an onstage discussion with critic Richard Crouse. And for last-minute gift needs, Jackson promises a satchel full of Christmas Evil merchandise.
The film opens on Christmas Eve, 1947, in suburban New Jersey as young Harry, his brother and mother quietly watch Santa Claus quaff some snacks, deliver gifts then disappear up the chimney again. Later that night, unable to sleep, Harry hears a creature stirring; but it’s no mouse – it’s Santa (actually his dad still in costume) on his knees groping his mother’s garters. A stunned Harry goes to the attic where he smashes a snow globe and deliberately cuts his hand. Creepy music lets us know this kid’s screwed for life.
Cut to a few decades later and it’s clear the traumatic childhood experience has created a sociopath with a promising career as a psychopath. Harry, a loner, works at the dreary Jolly Dreams toy factory and at home lives a Christmas-obsessed life as a self-made secret Santa, his apartment festooned with toys and Christmas decor – he even spies on neighbourhood kids with binoculars and keeps notes on them in his “Bad Boys & Girls” book.
After being exploited by a co-worker and enduring other humiliations just before Christmas, Harry has a nervous breakdown and his disturbing activities – which involve toy destruction as much as revenge murder – begin. And what Christmas movie would be complete without a torch-waving mob in pursuit of a psycho Santa? It’s jolly good evil fun.
Of course, the rep houses are offering more “traditional” Christmas flick fare. The Revue (400 Roncesvalles Ave.) is screening Scrooged, Richard Donner’s 1988 modernization of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Bill Murray stars as a cynical TV exec visited by three spirits on the eve of producing a crass live broadcast of A Christmas Carol – the scenes of Carol Kane, as Christmas Present, continually punching Murray in the face (literally trying to knock sense into him) still crack me up.
Tonight the Bloor presents perennial holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life (7 p.m.), worth catching on the big screen particularly for those who have only watched it interrupted by commercials on TV.
And for a decidedly different kind of holiday treat, the Bloor rings in the New Year with a return run (Jan. 1-7) of Repo! The Genetic Opera, one of the rep cinema’s most successful premieres ever when it opened last month. The explosive popularity of the grisly rock-opera musical has inspired a local group, the Shadow Cats, to organize North America’s first amateur live interactive performance to the film à la Rocky Horror Picture Show on Jan. 3 (check bloorcinema.com for show times).